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The European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) was launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The overriding aim of the Initiative is to coordinate EU development assistance in the field of water. Over a decade ago, the EU identified UNECE and OECD as strategic partners for the implementation of the EUWI in the region of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The implementation of EUWI in the region relies on National Policy Dialogues on Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Supply and Sanitation (NPDs), jointly facilitated by the UNECE and OECD. NPDs are intersectoral interagency platforms where key national stakeholders meet regularly to discuss and advance policy reforms. The NPDs are operational in 10 countries of the region.
Since 2016, the work in the six EU Eastern Partnership countries is carried out in the framework of the EU-funded EUWI Plus for the Eastern Partnership programme (EUWI+) with UNECE, OECD and the EU Member States Consortium, which includes the Environment Agency Austria and the International Office for Water of France, working together as implementing partners. The total EU contribution to the EUWI+ is 23.5 million EUR, presenting the main EU commitment in the water sector in the region. While all four implementing partners are in charge of specific actions, all activities are carried out in close cooperation with each other and are focused on three main results to be achieved:
• Result 1: Legal and regulatory frameworks improved in line with the WFD, IWRM and MEAs (implemented by the UNECE and the OECD)
• Result 2: River Basins Management Plans designed and implemented in line with the EU WFD principles (implemented by the Environment Agency Austria and the French International Office for Water)
• Result 3: Lessons learnt regularly collected, shared and communicated to stakeholders (implemented by the French International Office for Water).
All activities under the EUWI+ are implemented in line with the national workplans, which are agreed with the partner countries and which reflect their priorities in the water sector. Details are available at the NPD country pages and the dedicated EUWI+ website euwipluseast.eu. At the regional level activities are coordinated by the Regional Steering Committee at its annual meetings, gathering representatives of the partner countries, the European Commission, implementing partners and other stakeholders.
In Central Asia, since 2016 the organization of NPD meetings in partner countries has been supported by the European Union-Central Asia Water, Environment and Climate Change Cooperation (WECOOP) programme, funded by the European Union.
A new project implemented as part of the next phase of the WECOOP programme started in 2019 with the objective to enhance IWRM and inter-sectoral coordination for water security at the national level in Central Asian countries to support sustainable development. Enhancing water policies at national levels and approximating them to EU standards and promoting green investments in the water sector in Central Asia are specific objectives of the NPDs in Central Asia project.
At the regional level, the EU-Central Asia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change supports the EUWI NPDs on Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Supply and Sanitation, in cooperation with UNECE and OECD, in line with its Terms of Reference.